Africa

Somalis displaced by drought hit by Mogadishu rains

A Somali child carries her sibling as they wade through a flooded camp in Mogadishu, 14 July 2011
Image caption Somalis displaced by the drought find flooded camps in Mogadishu

People who have fled the drought in Somalia to camps near the capital Mogadishu have now been hit by days of heavy rain.

Aid workers say five people, including three children, had died of exposure. A doctor told the BBC that people could not find shelter from the cold rain.

The victims have been displaced by a drought that has devastated large parts of the Horn of Africa.

Some 10 million people are said to be affected across the region.

Osman Duflay, a Mogadishu doctor, told the BBC's World Update programme that camp residents were facing "disaster".

Extended drought is causing a severe food crisis in the Horn of Africa, which includes Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Weather conditions over the Pacific means the rains have failed for two seasons and are unlikely to return until October.
An estimated 12 million people in the region are affected by the drought. The UN has declared a famine in six areas of southern Somalia, where it says 750,000 people could die in the coming months in the absence of adequate response.
The humanitarian problem is made worse by conflicts. Militants had lifted a ban on aid agencies operating in parts of southern Somalia, but have since accused Western groups of exaggerating the scale of the crisis and again limited access.
Since the beginning of 2011, around 15,000 Somalis each month have fled into refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia looking for food and water. The refugee camp at Dadaab, in Kenya, has been overwhelmed by more than 420,000 people.
Farmers unable to meet their basic food costs are abandoning their herds. High cereal and fuel prices had already forced them to sell many animals before the drought and their smaller herds are now unprofitable or dying.
The refugee problem may have been preventable. However, violent conflict in the region has deterred international investment in long-term development programmes, which could have reduced the effects of the drought.
Development aid would focus on reducing deforestation, topsoil erosion and overgrazing and improving water conservation. New roads and infrastructure for markets would help farmers increase their profits.
The result of climate conditions, conflict and lack of investment is that millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are currently existing on food rations in what is said to be East Africa's worst drought for 60 years.
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"Especially the under-fives and the pregnant women, they're suffering from malnutrition and communicable disease like the measles, diarrhoea and pneumonia," he said.

Earlier this week Mark Bowden, the UN humanitarian affairs co-ordinator for Somalia, told the BBC that the country was close to famine.

"The next few months are critical," he said.

Last week Somalia's al-Shabab Islamist militia - which has been fighting the Mogadishu government - said it was lifting its ban on foreign aid agencies provided they did not show a "hidden agenda".

The drought is said to be the worst affecting by the Horn of Africa's in 60 years.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is reporting a dramatic rise in malnutrition rates even in the part of Somalia normally considered to be the breadbasket of the country.

Somalia, wracked by 20 years of conflict, is worst affected.

Some 3,000 people flee each day for neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya which are struggling to cope.

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